How to Ship a Desk Fan (by Dave Friedlund)


It is unfortunate how many fans get damaged in transit. Improper packaging, heavy brittle cast iron, and soft brass, are all the elements for disaster. This situation is compounded by naive sellers who assume these big heavy fans are strong and package them under this illusion. (I've rec'd damaged fans that I thought were properly packed and have even sent fans that arrived damaged. You just can't overly pack a fan.) With fan prices skyrocketing and more and more remote transactions, proper packaging becomes critical.

Step by Step Instructions:

  1. If you are the having the fan shipped to you, provide the seller these instructions beforehand. This is especially important with EBAY sellers. Tell the EBAY seller beforehand that these are your expectations. If they don't agree than don't bid. You also need to volunteer to pay their actual costs to properly pack and ship. (Some EBAY sellers quote shipping costs that don't reflect the actual cost to properly ship a fan. Don't expect them to honor this cost and still ship properly.)
  2. Remove the blade, cage, and struts. Wrap the blade in bubble wrap and place it in the cage. Wrap the cage in 2-3 layers of bubble wrap and place the pair in their own box.
  3. Remove the motor from the base. (base neck knuckles, rings, trunnions, and osc arms can be easy damaged by the shifting mass of the motor). Remove any osc. arms at one end. (The base to motor wiring usually has enough slack.) Wrap these in 3-4 layers of large bubble wrap and place this assembly in a double strength box that's provides a fairly tight/well cushioned fit.
  4. Put all screws and misc hardware in a plastic zip lock bag and tape it to the motor. Or re-insert the screws or even tape them close to their normal position. (it's easy for someone to misplace some of this small hardware it can be very hard to replace)
  5. Get a large double strength box and place 3-4" of padding at the bottom. (peanuts, tightly crushed newspaper, old foam rubber all work). Place the motor assembly box in first and then the cage box. Make sure there is 3-4" on all sides, top and bottom packed with packing material.
  6. Next, ask yourself if you would be confident that the fan could survive a fall from 4-5'. If not than improve your packing.
  7. Seal all edges of the box with clear packaging tape. (don't use regular scotch or masking tape). Don't use any wrapping paper or string. Remove any old labels, barcodes, etc.
  8. If it's a rare expensive fan, than ship UPS next day air of Fed X P1. The less time the fan is in transit the less probabilty for damage. Insure for full value but assume the insurance is for loss vs. damage. UPS rarely pays damage claims.

Other Tips:

  1. If you are shipping a GE pancake, try and remove the rotor. The heavy rotors can act like a battering ram and bust out the ornate castings.
  2. If you are not confident the shipper can pack the fan properly, than consider sending them a shipping container and packaging material that you are confident in. Cost to get it to them will be minimal since it's empty.
  3. If the shipper cannot remove the blade or guard than it's going to be risky. Tell them to bolt the fan's base to a piece of plywood and put it in a large box in the upright position with lot's of additional padding.
  4. UPS vs. FEDX vs. USPS. I haven't seen any data on who is the best.
  5. Mail Boxes ETC. They do a little better job in packaging but still won't pack a fan correctly unless you inform them. Expect to pay a huge surcharge. (3-4X the UPS rates + inflated prices for boxes/packaging/etc)
  6. Someone suggested shipping fans in a hard sided suitcase. These can be purchased from Goodwill for a few bucks. I haven't tried it.
  7. Others have suggested labeling the box "fragile glass" - don't know if it improves your fan's survival chances.
Please email any suggestions to